Redshirt sophomore Tony Montalbano (New Orleans, La.) delivered an RBI triple, the first of his career, in the bottom of the eighth inning and scored on a throwing error to complete a Charlotte 4-2 comeback win over Xavier on Sunday afternoon at Robert and Mariam Hayes Stadium.
The win gives the 49ers the weekend conference sweep and improves Charlotte to 23-6 on the season, no worse than tied for fifth in the country in wins as of Sunday. Charlotte is 5-1 in the Atlantic 10 Conference. Xavier slips to 16-13, 2-4 in conference.
The win was the 10th comeback victory for Charlotte this season. Three of Charlotte's five A-10 wins, including two in this series were by 4-2 final scores.
Xavier got on the board with two unearned runs in the first inning after a fly ball to the outfield was dropped with two outs. First baseman Ben Thomas doubled and scored on the error from the ball hit by Mark Elwell. He later scored on a single to center by right fielder Brian Bruening for Xavier's lone RBI of the game.
Xavier had five hits the rest of the way, with only shortstop Phil Bauer reaching third base safely. Charlotte did not allow a walk as a team for the second time this season.
The 49ers got on the board in the fifth when senior second baseman Corey Shaylor (Charlotte, N.C. / Independence HS) lifted a 1-1 pitch over the left field fence for his second home run of the season.
Charlotte tied the game in the seventh with back-to-back-to-back two-out singles. Justin Roland (Salisbury, N.C. / East Rowan HS) dropped a single into right field and advanced to second on an infield single by outfielder J.J. Elseser. Senior right fielder Justin Wilson (Canton, N.C. / Pisgah HS) pushed a ground ball through the left side of the infield to score Roland from second to tie the game.
In the eighth, redshirt senior Kevin Gillespie (Bedford, Ind.) drew a one-out walk and moved up on a groundout before Montalbano's triple got into the gap in right center. He slid in safely under a high throw that got into the Xavier dugout for the 4-2 lead.
Reliever Chad Rothlin (Hickory, N.C. / Fred T. Foard HS) got the win (3-2), allowing one hit in the last 3.1 innings. He retired the first nine Musketeers he faced before a grounder got through the left side of the infield for his only baserunner allowed. He struck out two in the contest. Rothlin earned both Charlotte wins out of the bullpen this week, grabbing a win in relief against No. 6 North Carolina Tuesday after 5.1 innings in that contest. He allowed just five hits in 8.2 innings pitched for the two games, striking out five with no walks.
The loss went to Xavier reliever Markus Kuykendoll (1-3), who allowed two hits and a walk and both runs in the eighth inning. He struck out one batter in an inning and a third.
Charlotte freshman starting pitcher Tyler Barnette (Hickory, N.C. / Hickory HS) got a no-decision after 5.1 innings. He allowed seven hits, but both runs charged to him were unearned. His team-leading ERA dropped to 0.91 after 39.2 inning pitched this season. Charlotte's weekend starters have a combined record of 14-1 with a collective ERA of 1.20 in 135.1 innings. Charlotte's team ERA is now 1.90 on the season. The 49ers were ranked sixth in the nation at a 2.01 ERA in the latest NCAA statistical ranking.
The 49ers step away from collegiate baseball this week, with an exhibition road contest at Knights Stadium in Fort Mill, S.C. to take on the AAA Charlotte Knights at 7:15 p.m. Tuesday night. The game will not count in the stats or record toward the collegiate season, but does count as a competitive playing date for NCAA purposes. The game will be played under professional baseball rules, including the use of wooden bats. The next 49ers regular-season contest will be next Friday, when Charlotte plays its first conference road series at Saint Joseph's. Game one, at Campbell's Field, site of the 2011 Atlantic 10 Conference Tournament, will be at 3 p.m.
NOTES: Charlotte is 4-1 when hitting exactly one home run in a game this season... The 49ers outscored Xavier 12-0 from the fifth inning on in the series... Seven of Charlotte 12 RBI in the three games came with two outs (Charlotte is has 79 two-out RBI this season, allowing just 28)... In 5.2 innings, the Charlotte bullpen allowed one hit and struck out eight Xavier batters without allowing a run for the series... The Musketeers, with the league's second-highest batting average as of Thursday, hit just .161 against Charlotte, striking out 21 times (to 10 for the 49ers)... Charlotte is outscoring opponents 63-28 after the sixth inning this season... Charlotte has 21 home wins this season... All five two-run margins for Charlotte have finished 4-2 (49ers are 3-2 in those games).